Ranger Teaches Me to Tell Time

Ranger gets my attention about time by sitting in a circle made by the garden hose.
Ranger gets my attention about time by sitting in a circle made by the garden hose.


“Time is a trap. I’m caught in it.”  — Margaret Atwood

Americans are caught in this trap. The jaws of the trap stand open, and there is much ‘reward’ inside. Achievement, money, recognition, fame… But it snaps shut over our lives and takes control.

Ranger: “Hey, you. You with your constant check on the time. Why do you do this constant checking? You used to have meetings throughout the day, but it seems to me that you have pulled this crazy notion of time forward into your retirement. You rush around obsessively.”

Me:  “So now you want me in therapy over time. And you choose a garden hose as your prop? Please!”

Ranger: “I have a limited number of props, and no thumbs, so bear with me here. I choose what I have handy. Let me ask you, when did time become linear?”

Me: “That’s easy. When we no longer used the seasons as our clocks, and the moon as the second hand. Those told us when to plant, take the flock into the hills, when the fish would be running in the stream. Those were natural clocks. When we started organizing ourselves in a non-agricultural setting, reporting for duty somewhere other than home… then we needed a clock that was precise.”

Ranger: “Exactly. Calendars were created and given away as gifts to people now tied to linear time. Time became even more linear when digital clocks started to replace the circular clocks on walls. Do you see that you need to make an act of will to change the way you live with time? It ought to be easy for you in the circumstances you are in, but perhaps you can pave the way toward a more circular and more whole way of living by getting yourself removed from the constant need to prove you can be on time. Time has come to equal money, and as Carl Sandburg so clearly said, we’d best be careful lest we let other people spend it for us.”

Me: “How can you quote Carl Sandburg?”

Ranger: “Easy. I listen really well. I know that I would rather build clocks than to tell time. Think about it. If this session is worth anything, it will allow you to see time as a circle, as a gift, as something you can relish rather than run along side of, or inside of. You are worth learning this, even as old as you are.”

Me: “Did you need to remind me that I’m old? Gees…. Thanks a lot!”


Ranger With His Crone Friend

The Crone and Her Therapist.
The Crone and Her Therapist.

Of Crones and Dogs

Ranger and I have been in session the last few days in the back yard. He knows how old I am, and I suspect we’re pretty much of a pair in that department. I figure his age is 42 in dog years, and advancing at a faster clip than mine, so he’ll catch me in a few years. He is aging well. I hope I am. I can do most things I’ve always done, even though I don’t have as much stamina as I used to have. And I have a bigger world view, which is what happens to most every crone.

Ranger: “I don’t have thumbs, so I guess I can’t help you get those orchids lashed to the tree stump.”

Me: “You’re doing your job by keeping me company. What I need from you today is some comfort about the state of the world. Temperatures in Florida, and around the world, are higher this spring than ever before on record. We’re both sweating out here in the yard, and it is March, the peak of high tourist season. I was with my two grandchildren this morning, getting them off to school, and it was pretty much a nightmare getting across town. The traffic was bad. So… I’m wondering today why everyone seems to assume that more development and economic “growth” is a value. Florida’s developers get sweetheart deals, news broadcasts daily tout increases in the Dow averages, the news seems riddled with the assumption that we must keep growing in productivity….. on and on. Why are we not happy with maintaining or reducing our consumption? Notice that I don’t believe we should stop research and development, and getting everything improved (like solar on every roof).  I’m talking about the mindless consumption we see all around. I believe what we are witnessing with the weather and with sea level rise is related to the fact that we seem to assume that a more technologically advanced car would serve us better, that we’d be happier with a bigger home, that we could have a wine cellar and a storage unit to house the extra belongings that no longer fit in our closets….”

Ranger: “Stop. Now. You take pride in identifying yourself as an old crone. You wear that as a badge of honor. But you need to understand that the big changes in the world have always been here. Your mother came out of World War II, and she was sitting in that remote city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Now it’s your turn. You’re sitting here fussing about climate change and the devastating effects of that on the world your grandchildren will inherit, but is it different than what your mother faced?”

Me: “Certainly she believed the world might come to an end! She had mouths to feed and probably was grieved for the future of her children. World War II consumed most of the known world back then. But this is bigger, isn’t it? This is a war we can only win if we all change our culture and make a concerted effort to be responsible to the earth.”

Ranger: “It’s right to compare this to war, but it’s a very different war than we have had in the past. To me the problem is that we haven’t declared war on the enemy yet. And, if we did, who would that enemy be? We might even be declaring war on the very structure of our culture which we have relied on for so long. We would be putting the thumb on that constant “growth at any cost” mentality that exists across our entire culture. So do we declare war on ourselves?  Believing that just one more tube of lipstick or one more treatment on our skin could make us immortal is just plain wrong. As a crone, you are in a good place to see this clearly. You have a responsibility for the wellbeing of the earth. Stop feeling guilty and apologizing for yourself and speak the truth.”

Me: “Okay, let’s make a pact. Let’s together scrutinize our lifestyles one more time, to identify any ways we do not treat the earth as sacred. We’re already vegetarians, we recycle, we drive less and have efficient cars, we talk about this with our friends and family, we stand up and are counted as citizens concerned for the planet. But we also must practice simple gratitude for the life we have and the sacred earth we occupy. On that note let’s go inside and celebrate our life with Darryl.”

Ranger Hard at Work

The Dogter is in. Lots of work at the computer today.
The Dogter is in. Lots of work at the computer today.

Ranger: “Let’s get this fan mail sorted and taken care of.”

Me: “You’re on a real tear today… I can hardly keep up. I thought we were talking about slowing down and acting our age, not to mention being more relaxed and moving at a slower pace.”

Ranger: “Fine, but humor me a bit here. I can do all of that slow stuff once I address these piles of papers. Wouldn’t hurt you to get yours shuffled as well. Let’s do all of this quickly and then take a nap?”

Me: “Okay, that’s an hour or so. I can do that. But let me remind you that much of what I’m learning from you about a slower pace to my life is valuable and was much needed. So let’s not forget that!”

Ranger: “It’s all about balance. Your biorhythms are best in the morning, as are mine…. and Darryl’s too, now that I’m thinking about it. It’s morning. Let’s use our biorhythms to get the work out of the way, and then relax. You’re right… I am trying to teach you about the slower lane. If you plan to visit Bhutan (I know you are, and I’m not so excited for myself, since I’ll need to go to the other house and stay with Uncle Toscano) but it will be good for you. Life in a Buddhist country is a revelation to those not used to that pace. You’ll have to slow way down, trust me.”


Ranger Addresses My Gloomy Mood

I do know what triggered this mini-depression I am experiencing!

On Sunday, talking with other climate justice friends, one of them (a practicing psychologist) said she thought she could open a practice by just serving those who are climate justice folks and also fighting depression. Boy, did we ever understand that! Ranger and I spent a couple of hours snuggled up and talking our way through some of our feelings.

Ranger: “This is hard on me, when you look wiped out and overloaded. What’s up?”

Me: “I figured you would zero in on this. I look at all the bar graphs and statistics about sea level rise, crazy weather and ice melting, and I am overwhelmed. I am doing everything I can by talking to other people and doing all the personal stuff one needs to do to prove commitment (notice I am done eating any kind of meat!) but it’s not enough to lift the black cloud from my head. I get to feeling terrorized for my grandchildren, who will inherit this world that we pretty much helped to mess up.”

Ranger: “I need to talk you off that ledge. You being all depressed about this doesn’t get any of us more of what we want. What you need to remember are the spider webs.”

Ranger advises me to keep these images in my mind.
Ranger advises me to keep these images in my mind.


Me: “What? Spider webs? This this a knock-knock joke? It better be a good one, and one I can repeat to my five year old granddaughter, who loves those jokes.”

Ranger: “No. I’m deadly serious. You had your camera out in the back yard this morning taking pictures of spider webs that showed up on the grasses out there. You were all relaxed and happy in the heavy mist and total silence. That’s what you need to remember. Put it at the center of your thoughts and carry it like a mantra. If those spiders spin those every night even though they get blown away in the morning, you can surely keep doing what you’re doing without getting all anxious about the scientific data and doomsday messages.”